Alan Cooper

Prof, Professor of Evolution and Environmental Change

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1992 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Personal profile

My career has been built around my love of fieldwork, generally involving caving or exploring weird and wonderful parts of the world – where I've collected ancient and modern samples of animals and plants, sediments, water and other materials. I specialize in developing new ways to extract detailed genetic signals from the past, to study ancient environments and the impacts of climate and human caused changes. I started my ancient research in Allan Wilson’s Lab at UC Berkeley with Svante Pääbo in 1989, performing some of the first ancient DNA studies and building the field standards for ancient DNA. I then pioneered genetic studies of extinct animals and methods to analyse ancient skeletons. My main interest has always been research that spans multiple disciplines (eg maths, geology, physics, climate, molecular biology) and inventing unconventional approaches to answer big picture questions. I have a broad background that ranges across climate change, environmental science, genomics, and evolution, with many unusual detours. I specialise in building international teams of multi-disciplinary experts interested in tackling major scientific questions. Recent examples include the history of humans as we left Africa and dispersed around the world, the role of geomagnetism and solar weather in climate and evolution, and microbiology and human dental health and medicine.

Research Interests

  • environmental DNA/microbiomes
  • climate change
  • genetic selection/adaptation
  • genomics
  • evolution
  • microbiology
  • palaeontology
  • archaeology/paleoanthropology
  • solar weather
  • geomagnetism
  • molecular dating

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry/Genetics, PhD, Molecular Evolution of Extinct New Zealand Birds, Victoria University of Wellington

… → 1994

External positions

Professor, Director Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide


Professor, Director Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecule Centre, Oxford University



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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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